Editor's note: Today, we're featuring a powerful essay from our good friend Mark Ford.
Mark has built dozens of businesses from scratch…creating millions of dollars of wealth in the process. He knows more about building wealth than just about anyone.
In this classic piece, he describes the three ways to get rich…
Is it possible to begin with nothing and acquire wealth in America? Is it still possible today?
I’ve been studying that question for almost 20 years. And the answer is unequivocal: It is. It is still possible for ordinary, wage-earning Americans to become wealthy.
From my research, I have seen that there are basically three ways to get rich:
1. Slowly (in 30 to 40 years)
2. Quickly (overnight)
3. Surely (in seven years or less)
How to Get Rich Slowly
The Millionaire Next Door, a best-selling book from 1996, revealed that the typical American millionaire acquires their fortunes by scrimping and saving.
Just about anyone can get rich this way. You simply put a reasonable percentage of your income into an ordinary investment program for 30 or 40 years, and voila! You are rich!
The median income in America was $56,516 in 2015. If you invest 10% of that income ($5,652) at a compounded return of 10.2% (the S&P 500’s track record from 1915–2015) over 30 years, you’ll end up with over $1,000,000.
This is due to the “miracle” of compound interest, but it is in no way miraculous. It is a certainty based on historical averages and simple math.
But there is a hitch. You have to start relatively young.
If you start, for example, when you are 50, you will have only $206,712 accumulated by the time you are 65. If you start when you are 60, well… You get the picture.
Getting rich this way doesn’t require guts or brains. All you need is a commitment to work hard to make enough money to save every month… and the discipline to keep socking it away.
How to Get Rich Quickly
Acquiring wealth by scrimping and saving is a sure thing, but it does take a long, long time. Even if we have the time, most of us don’t have the patience for it.
But getting rich quickly—the ultimate financial aphrodisiac. Is it possible?
The answer: yes, but only if you are very, very lucky.
We read and hear about it all the time. A chicken farmer in Idaho discovers a Rembrandt in his barn. A barber in New Jersey hits the state lotto. And the one I like best—some guy made a million bucks by investing $5,000 in a penny stock!
Those are the stories. But the odds of any of these things happening to you are incredibly slim.
I don’t gamble because I know there are many other ways of entertaining myself that are less addictive and less costly.
How to Get Rich Surely
The strategy I recommend is faster and more fun than scrimping and saving and much, much more likely to work than any sort of get-rich-quick scheme.
I’d like to illustrate my strategy by telling you how I did once make more than a million dollars in the lottery—without buying a single ticket.
In the 1980s, my business partner had an idea. We would publish a magazine featuring stories of lottery winners and essays by crazy professors with theories about how to beat the odds.
At one time, we had 100,000 subscribers paying us $39 per year. You can do the math.
It didn’t happen overnight. It took years and thousands of man-hours to make it work. It was the result of a good idea, lots of experience, and lots of hard work. And perhaps a touch of luck.
This is how you get rich surely. You don’t sit around dreaming or throwing what little money you have at ideas. You work hard and smart to earn good money, and you put a large percentage of that money aside to build a business, acquire property, and invest in smart and safe opportunities when they arrive.
This is the way the great industrialists made their fortunes 100-plus years ago in America. And it is the way many entrepreneurs and professionals make their money today.
When I wrote Seven Years to Seven Figures, I interviewed eight people who had developed multimillion-dollar wealth in under seven years. I asked them exactly what they did. Ultimately, I was searching for a common denominator.
As it turned out, I came up with three things that they had in common.
They had all:
1. Learned a financially valuable skill
2. Started a business in an up-trending market niche
3. Spent considerably less than they made and saved the difference
This validates what experience tells me: if you are willing to put in the time and follow proven principles of wealth-building, you can become wealthy in a relatively short amount of time—even if you are broke or in debt right now.
Fortune magazine predicts that 1,700 people will become millionaires each day into the 2020s. If you get rich surely, the way I suggest, I think you could be one of them.
P.S. Over the last five years, I’ve worked with a team of bright people to develop essays, reports, and how-to manuals on building wealth surely. They’re based on my own personal experience doing these things myself or coaching others through them.
I can promise you this: It doesn’t matter whether you’re 60 years old or a youngster, rich or poor, Harvard educated or a high school dropout, handicapped or able-bodied—this program is the best in the world if you want to build a seven-figure net worth in the next seven years. For more information, click here.